Megan Thee Stallion, India.Arie, Janelle Monae

Aaron J. Thornton / Contributor via Getty Images, Gilbert Carrasquillo / Contributor via Getty Images, and Josh Brasted / Contributor via Getty Images

India.Arie Calls Out Megan Thee Stallion For Performance At 2023 ESSENCE Festival

  /  07.05.2023

India.Arie recently voiced her disapproval over Megan Thee Stallion’s controversial stage act during the 2023 ESSENCE Festival. The hotly debated performance featured a “bootcamp” led by Megan — alongside Janelle Monáe — with fans chosen from the audience engaging in an onstage twerking contest.

“The issue is what is CONTEXT,” Arie began in a lengthy statement responding to ESSENCE‘s Instagram clip from the concert. Taking exception to the provocative routine, she asked, “Humanity does EVERYTHING. But does EVERYTHING BELONG [ON] A STAGE? No.”

Arie’s critique continued as she analyzed the environment of the performance by asserting, “Is everything for KIDS? No. Is everything for EVERYBODY? NO. So when we as a culture make something like this mainstream, it shows a lack of discretion [and] discernment.”


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She added, “To those in the comments who laugh at anyone who wants these things for [our] culture, you certainly have that right. Just as many folks have the right to want our MAINSTREAM international export — [our] music — to show us in a respectful light. I’d like to go on the record saying: This won’t age well and that’s my issue.”

Arie’s 25-year journey in the music industry has undoubtedly given her a unique perspective. However, many seemingly don’t agree with it as evident in the comment section. Her remarks were wrapped with a stern caution for potential critics: “Don’t bother debating me,” she wrote. “I’ve been doing this for 25 years.”

The critique comes amid the growing discussion around hypersexuality and policing women’s bodies in hip hop. Many, like Arie, have raised concerns about the implications for the wider audience, particularly younger, impressionable fans.

Earlier this week, Monáe also faced criticism for her performance at the 2023 ESSENCE Festival. Her rendition of “Yoga” included the musician flashing her breast on stage during the lyric, “Get off my areola.” Subsequently, it prompted a mix of cheers and raised eyebrows from the audience as well as discourse on social media.


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